Thursday, December 12, 2013

All about the Front Kick

As I've mentioned before, not only am I an actor, but I'm also a martial artist.  I thought that for today's blog post, I'd take a break from normal show buisness related posts and share some of my martial arts.  I'll be periodically doing this in the future too, so please enjoy!


If you've ever taken karate, Tae Kwon Do, or kung fu, then you are familiar with the most basic and fundamental kick in the striking arts...the front kick.  (In Japanese, it's called mae geri.)  This is the easiest kick to learn, but one of the hardest to perfect.  The main problem is that beginners fail to thrust their hips properly.  This results in more of an up-down motion with the foot, and doesn't have stopping power (unless you're kicking up between your opponent's legs, or under his chin.)

For folks who practice MMA, most of your striking skills will come from boxing and Muay Thai.  The Muay Thai front kick is called a teep, and is a front thrust kick used mainly in the ring to push your opponent away and create a gap so you can follow up with the round kick which is more powerful.

But if you learn proper fundamentals, you can have enough stopping power with a front kick, no matter what your style.  The best way to learn this is against a heavy bag.  Only by hitting something with resistance can you actually develop the proper amount of force.

Take a look at the below video for illustration:

In traditional karate, you have two types of front kicks:  the front snap kick (mae geri kekage) and front thrust kick (mae geri keikomi).  The main difference is that the thrust pushes more (similar to a teep), and uses the heel.  A snap kick traditionally is used more for speed, and thus a lot of power is lost.

I personally believe in a happy medium.  You want to have enough speed to snap the kick, but enough hip thrust to deliver full force into the target.  It makes no sense to just flick a kick out there (unless you're performing in an action scene in a movie).  If your kick doesn't have enough stopping power, you'll not be able to use it in a self defense situation.

But you don't want to just muscle your way through the kick, otherwise it will be too slow and lumbering.  to practice speed with power, I like to use a good-ol' top & bottom bag.  This bag is primarily used by boxers to practice slipping, bobbing & weaving while striking with their punches.  It's a lot more difficult to apply linear kicks against, since the speed and lightness of the bag makes it difficult for your kicks to have enough speed to hit it.  With practice, it is possible as illustrated in the video below:

So there you have it.  To improve your front kick, it's important to develop both speed and power.  Karate is all about balance, and this especially important in how you practice.

Happy Training!